The Problem of Intentions

I’ve been pondering my own negative reaction to the idea of intentions as we begin the year 2022, and I hear people begin to talk of setting resolutions and intentions.  Just thinking about the word, intention, I feel my face scrunch up into a frown or grimace, a face full of skepticism and disdain. I feel frustration, even anger, and my temperature rises.   I had to look up the word to determine exactly what it meant apart from my associations, interpretations, and strong, visceral reaction. 

In-ten-tion: noun, a thing intended; an aim or plan.

“She was full of good intentions”

Synonyms – aim, intent

Perhaps some of my disdain stems from the fact that the word is a noun, and a noun alone is devoid of action.  Come January or tomorrow or even today, don’t we want to create action? When I think about reflecting and looking forward, I think about change and achievement and choice, actively moving forward, not just hanging out with a noun.  Then I start thinking about the meaning of this noun, and for me, the word intention seems to become synonymous with an excuse, another noun and stumbling block for creating action.

“A thing intended; an aim or plan” is the definition that comes up when I google the word, intention. I don’t want to intend to act, I want to create action. I don’t want to aim at a goal, I want to accomplish the goal. I don’t want to simply make a plan, I want to actively start walking, taking the steps, doing the work with purpose. What describes how I want to act is the adjective form, intentional.

In-ten-tion-al: adjective, done on purpose; deliberate

“He was cited with intentional wrongdoing and harm.”

Synonyms – deliberate, calculated, conscious

I want to be deliberate and conscious and calculated, but again, “to be” still isn’t an active verb. “To be” still sounds stuck in one place, to me.

What gets closer to the action I seek to live by, or the verb form of “intention”, is to act intentionally, deliberately, on purpose.  I want to live with purpose, act with purpose, make decisions with purpose. A friend, colleague, and fellow coach, over the years, has taught me the importance of language.  The words we use, think, and speak are attached to our actions and either propel us forward or hold us hostage. My intentions will no longer hold me hostage!

My word for 2022 is INTENTIONALLY. 

In-ten-tion-al-ly: adverb, deliberately; on purpose.

“I intentionally scheduled time to talk.”

Synonyms – deliberately, on purpose

I will act with intention.  I will be intentional.  I will make decisions and choices about how I spend my time, how I use my resources, how I choose my words, how I show up,  and what I accomplish INTENTIONALLY. I will not set intentions and shrug them off to have been good but not important enough to achieve or at least create action in an attempt to achieve.  I will not set intentions and use them to excuse my lack of action. I will intentionally make choices to ensure I am intentional about living my life and achieving my goals and I will manifest with intention.  Sure, intention can come along, but I will be intentional about intentionally creating the path ahead.  I will not be detoured by good intentions but will be guided by intentionally seeking, exploring, designing, generating, and producing the year I envision.

Words are important as they form the stories we tell ourselves and the reality we create.  What is your guiding word for 2022?  What words do you use that may be holding you back or getting in your way?  How might you be more intentional with your words and intentionally write new stories and create new realities?

Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash